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Volunteer highlight: Amy & Raquel

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In celebration of National Volunteer Week, the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City would like to thank all of the incredibly dedicated community volunteers who have supported our work and the families we serve over the years. Learn about two invaluable members of our volunteer corps below. 

Meet Amy.

Amy started volunteering last May. For her, beginning a tutoring position worked out perfectly since she just transitioned from her job and the IRC was searching for someone who could speak Vietnamese.

A screenshot of Amy, an Online Youth Tutor with the IRC in Salt Lake City having an online meeting with students
Online Youth Tutors provide support for students through virtual platforms. Photo: Screenshot

As Amy’s parents and brother came to the United States as Vietnamese refugees in the 80’s, this volunteer work has a special place in her heart. She taught two students, a brother and sister. They came as Hmong refugees but they lived in Vietnam and Thailand for quite some time. Because of this, they are extremely multilingual. Their parents prefer to speak in Mong, they speak to each other in Thai, and for tutoring, they speak Vietnamese.

“They didn’t know anyone when they came, they had only been in America for one month,” Amy said of the students. “Everything was very new and scary and intimidating. And then they learned that I spoke Vietnamese.” She started volunteering before they even went to school, which offered an opportunity to practice English. She watched their confidence grow over time. “Now, ten months later, we’re speaking in English with each other,” she said.

Meet Raquel.

Raquel has been tutoring online for a year, where she has been learning how students learn to better serve them. She was just accepted into her medical program and hopes to go into pediatrics. “I love kids,” she shares. “I love to help them through their growing.”

Raquel started as an immigration volunteer. Originally, she thought her personal experience would help others -- but soon realized differently. “You have to start from a humble standpoint,” she explains. In March 2020, she started her time as an online youth tutor and appreciated learning more about the students who worked with her. “I really felt like I was able to build relationships with the students,” she says.

One such student was attending Salt Lake Community College when Raquel met her. They worked together for a month during which time Raquel learned about her struggles of being a student in a new country while helping her family. It was difficult for her to “concentrate and prioritize her education,” Raquel shares. Together, they worked on challenging math problems. “At the end of those sessions she would just be so happy and that made me happy,” Raquel reminisced.

Online youth tutors: Online youth tutors connect with individual students virtually weekly to support students with their educational needs with the supervision and guidance of the education program of the IRC in Salt Lake City. Learn more about this volunteer opportunity and others by visiting Rescue.org/VolunteerSLC.